First gray whale spotted off Whidbey Island

This gray whale was seen off the coast of Whidbey Island recently.  - Veronica von Allworden photo
This gray whale was seen off the coast of Whidbey Island recently.
— image credit: Veronica von Allworden photo

The early whale catches the worm.

Maybe that's what brought No. 53, a gray whale that was first spotted last week and sighted again today, to the waters off the coast of Whidbey Island.

Langley resident Veronica von Allworden reported both sightings to the Orca Network.

"That caused quite a stir," said Howard Garrett of the Orca Network. "It's about a month earlier than usual."

Whatever attracted the gray whale into Saratoga Passage remains a mystery at this point. But Garrett said it is likely No. 53 was led by its stomach.

"They have come back in the end of January before, but we can only speculate that there must be some food here," Garrett said.

"There must be some shrimp and worms - the mud flats must be thriving."

In her message to the Orca Network, von Allworden said the whale headed north after feeding in front of her Saratoga-area home for a couple of hours. She said the massive marine mammal did a "typical feeding pattern of feeding for 15 minutes or so" before moving to deeper water.

Gray whales were last spotted this early off Whidbey about two years ago.

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